On Friday, September 14th after work I headed on down to the Chelsea Barnes & Noble for an artist meet & greet/book launch of The Moving Images of Tracey Moffatt by Catherine Summerhayes. Both Tracy and Catherine were on hand to discuss the book - a monograph and survey of Moffatt's film and photography, characterized as Summerhayes put it by "that feeling of anticipation, that anything is possible..."
Moffatt is gorgeous woman in her 40s whose features seem to be a mixture of Australia's indigenous and European cultures. This was her first book launch in New York City and she was visibly nervous, yet I also got the feeling that her frenetic energy was just a relevation of her own personality. She responded to the audience's questions with quirky and quick-witted answers.
Originally trained in college as a photographer, Moffatt boasted that she "didn't plan on being an artist" and "always wanted to be Roman Polanski." She and her schoolmates didn't do much work and just sat around the Brisbane coffeeshops waxing poetic about filmakers like Fellini. Since then, Moffatt has made a living off of her photography and film work that she described as being mostly autobiographical.
Moffatt's "Love" video is currently on view at the Brookly Museum's "Global Feminisms" exhibit. The video itself is a montage of scenes from famous movies - cut into 2 parts: the first half shows footage of women being slapped/hit by their male counterparts while the second half delivers the payback with women shooting/crushing their male oppressors. As Summerhayes put it, the video is quite violent due mostly to its quick editing - each scene a back-to-back, rapid-fire burst of hurt and anger that makes your blood boil.
Currently Moffatt is working on a new film with a "revolution" theme for the upcoming Sidney Biennale. Typically her work focuses on complex subjects like sexuality, history, identity, representation and race. Though it seems to me that Moffatt isn't trying to convey any specific judgement (good or bad) on any of these themes - she's just portraying the truth of her life and her environment. At the end of the book launch she said she's been working on a film script for over 10 years - but if all her work is autobiographical, will she ever be able to finish it?
View some of Tracey Moffatt's work online or go buy her book!
Photo: self portrait by Tracey Moffatt